Celebrity Justice

Just a quick comment on the new McCain commercial comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

In a country that turns out more enthusiasm for American Idol than American politics, spotlighting your opponent’s popularity and placing him in the same sphere of celebrity as the nation’s biggest tabloid-sellers doesn’t just help him and hurt you, it makes you seem really, really really old and out of touch.

Besides – as Craig Fuller (Republican strategist) reminded us last night – Ronald Reagan…pre-President…actual movie star…

Did no one on the McCain ad team think of that?

I went to the Nats game tonight. For about 5 innings. The new stadium’s nice. For a stadium.

All in all, it was a hot muggy night, and the home team was getting creamed. There was no need to stay and watch the massacre.

The night wasn’t a total loss though. I had good company, we had great seats, and there was the joy that is the Presidents Race. Slightly disturbing and yet oddly entertaining:

Job Security

I spent about an hour on the phone (btwn yesterday and today) with my former employer’s benefits representative for Blue Cross Blue Shield. The insurance company denied covering blood work done the day of surgery (to make sure it was ok to do surgery). They said it was “routine” blood work, and I am only allowed one set of tests a year from my ob/gyn. Small problem… this was my dermatologist, not my gynecologist.

Yesterday’s rep said even though the gynecologist’s name is nowhere to be found on the claim document, this charge came from his office. Today’s rep said she doesn’t know what yesterday’s rep was smoking (my words not hers. she was much nicer than that).

Anyway, the charge was from the doctor on the claim form (imagine that), and now the rep’s got to go back and get a new claim code and resubmit the paperwork for adjustment.

I don’t even want to guess how much time, money, and manpower (besides my own) will be wasted in the course of fixing this debacle.

But this is exactly why I do what I do now…and why we’re going to win.

Oh Baby

Chez and Jayne welcome Inara Grace


Mistery Shopper

Someone special is having surgery today.

I’m thinking good thoughts for him.

I’m also in charge of finding the perfect get well gift but have been informed I need approval before completing the purchase. Apparently, not everyone appreciates my unconventional selections.

I refuse to concede.

I still think the incredible misting fountain was an excellent choice.


That’s how many emails I’ve gotten today. Approximately. I know because if I don’t update my Blackberry, they pile up.

I cleared a handful this morning before coming to work so let’s round up to 225 for argument’s sake.

That’s absurd. 225 emails. And it wasn’t even a particularly busy email day. Or at least it didn’t feel that way.

Or I’m just so used to the deluge that I don’t even notice anymore.


And with that…it’s the weekend!

While Austin was a lot of fun and uberproductive, I’m still wiped and feel like I haven’t had an ounce of downtime in ages.

So I’m checking out for now. The poem of the week‘s been updated. I like it. Read it out loud. And remember to check out John’s column here on Sunday.

Have a good one.

UPDATE: So it turns out I’m a week behind on the poem of the week. This is the new one. I like it too, but you don’t have to read it out loud. Well, you can if you want. Or not. I’m just saying. Oh, nevermind.

Blast from the Past

Google just “alerted” me with the transcript of my second day ever on the air at CNN. Apparently, I used the phrase “sort of” a lot:

WOODRUFF: We continue now with our weeklong look at the growing influence of political blogs. With me here in Washington are, again, Howard Kurtz of CNN’s “RELIABLE SOURCES,” and Jacki Schechner, who is our blog reporter.

Jackie, tell us what you’re seeing now.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: You are absolutely right, Judy. They are talking about whether or not the journalists are going to jail. And Howie is with me here to talk about that a little more.

We actually — when the news broke, we went onto the blogs to take a look and see who was talking about it. InstaPundit broke and said the subpoenas are out. That was the first time we sort of saw that. And that was just before noon, so about the same time, a little bit after the news came out.

Then we went over to Vodkapundit.com, and what they were talking about there, they had the press release that came from “TIME” magazine where the editor in chief was standing behind his journalist. And he was basically saying that journalists have to protect their sources, that’s absolutely what they must do or they lose their credibility as journalists.

KURTZ: You might think, Jacki, that it would be a great first amendment debate about should Judy Miller and Matt Cooper go to jail, why should they go to jail, what would this — what kind of chilling effect would this have. But that doesn’t seem to be the focus of the debate.

A lot of the Web sites beating up on Bob Novak. He’s not a popular figure on the left, and wondering about his involvement in this whole thing. It was his 2003 column that started this.

And I’ve got a soap box — excuse me, I’ve got SoapboxBlog.com up here talking about Jeff Gannon, the online reporter who resigned last week. He had something to do with reporting on the Plame case as well.

“How does a writer for a pretend news service get access to CIA documents on Valerie Plame?” So there are different sidebar aspects of this whole story that seem to be exciting the blogers more than the more fundamental question for people in my line of work, which is reporters protecting their sources and staying out of jail.

SCHECHNER: Well, Gannon was one of the big stories that we covered yesterday. So it’s all sort of interconnected, which we talked about, how the blogs sort of feed back on each other.

And then we went over to DailyCause (ph), which is interesting, because Cause (ph) says that they should give up their source, that who are they protecting, who are these reporters protecting? It’s somebody in the Bush administration who is using them, which I think you mentioned earlier that it’s a possibility.

KURTZ: Very easy to say, but if they were to take that advice, they basically would be out of business. Who would ever trust them again? Who would ever give them information and say, “You can’t use my name?”

It’s a very risky road to travel down when you’ve made a promise to somebody that you are going to expect to keep.

SCHECHNER: That’s right. As a journalist, that’s sort of where your credibility begins and ends.

We also want to talk about Eason Jordan, that issue in the blogs. Not so much about Eason Jordan, even though that’s sort of the topic of conversation, but more about the role of the blogger and the role of the mainstream media and how they can sort of interconnect.

Buzz Machine was one that was sort of talking about the Internet and how the Internet changes journalism in the face of journalism, and how sort of there’s eyes and ears everywhere now, and how that’s going to change the mainstream media. There’s other sites like Captains Quarters, where they’re talking about the integration, the synthesis, is the word he uses, the old and the new media. “The Washington Times” was an example that he cited as somebody who’s actually starting to do that well.

And then PressThink, which I think is really interesting. A site we talked about yesterday where you can go and see what the stories are through the day.

KURTZ: In real time.

SCHECHNER: In real time. Which ones are rising, which ones are falling, what’s number one.

The number one today that people are checking out is this thing called PressThink. And it’s written by Jay Rosen, an NYU professor. And he’s talking about — he says it’s his closing thoughts on the resignation of Eason Jordan. But what he says is, “The solution when you miscommunicate has to be more communication, not excommunication.” KURTZ: But the debate has very much moved from should Eason Jordan have resigned as CNN’s chief news executive over those comments he made about the U.S. military and journalists in Iraq, to the role of the blogosphere. You have bloggers arguing with each other, is it a lynch mob or not, are we providing a good factual check on the mainstream media or not.

You certainly have some resentment from people in the old dinosaur media. Now you have people looking over their shoulders. And so it’s interesting the way this has just absolutely caught fire. And I think this will rage for days because…

SCHECHNER: Oh, absolutely.

KURTZ: … it’s like the Dan Rather story. It’s a tale in which bloggers played an absolutely essential role. This would not have happened without that original posting from somebody who attended the Dallas conference and now they are either celebrating or in some cases having second thoughts about their role in the Jordan case.

SCHECHNER: Yes. I mean, there is some call out there still for the tapes to be released from Davos and the World Economic Forum and all of that stuff.

KURTZ: I would like the tapes to be released. Let’s resolve the question of what he said and what he didn’t say.

SCHECHNER: Right. Right. But I think also now they’re talking about integration, not so much who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s checking whom, but how do we integrate this and how does this new medium become part of mainstream media and sort of integrate and become one big journalistic entity with sort of checks and balances and that sort of thing.

Another story that sort of relates to this we thought was interesting, it was rising on — on (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We took a look at it, and it’s been rising all day.

It’s BatesLine.com. And it’s a Tulsa, Oklahoma, blogger.

He got a letter from “Tulsa World,” a local newspaper, that basically said, stop publishing bits and pieces of what we publish. And they sent him a letter, sort of a cease and desist, and said that we’ll take legal action if you don’t stop. You want to reprint anything that’s on our — in our newspaper, you need to get clearance for it.

So his call basically was, help me out here. I’m going to need to speak on behalf of all the bloggers.

And there’s some of the bloggers who’ve responded — Wizbang blog was an interesting response that we came up with. Kevin Aylward wrote a letter back to John Blair (ph), who is the VP of “Tulsa World.” And this is the quote: “It’s a bad idea to tangle with the community of Web blogs,” and he refers to Rather (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And basically says, “When you attempt to silence them, you attempt to silence them all.”

KURTZ: It sounds like he’s saying nice little site you got here, it would be a shame if anything happened to it. But, you know, if this blogger is really just picking up bits and pieces from the biggest newspaper in Oklahoma’s capital, and putting his own comments on it, everybody does that these days.

I do that every day on WashingtonPost.com. I provide the links. Other news organizations like that because it drives traffic to their sites. You can’t just steal outright the entire editorial product. That’s called theft.


KURTZ: But if you’re just picking out bits and pieces, especially if you’re linking to the source and crediting the source, then I’m not sure that “Tulsa World” is going to win on at least the public relations battlefield.

SCHECHNER: Well, that’s what they were saying, that he’s linking. And really that’s not infringement or anything. So we’ll keep an eye on it and see if this gets any bigger.

We’ll turn it back to Judy.

WOODRUFF: And Jacki, you’re answering a question I was going to ask, which is, how much of all the conversation back and forth on these blogs is driven by cable television news? You’ve got three, at least three channels out there. Certainly CNN right in the middle of it. But you are saying that some of this conversation is being picked up from newspapers?

SCHECHNER: Well, they’re picking up some of these issues and then they’re discussing them and talking about them. It’s not so much their self-discovery today. They’re not necessarily finding new issues today. But a lot of them are sort of talking about what’s going on.

Michael Jackson being one good example. We…


KURTZ: I’ve got Dead Pool (ph) up here and they’ve got — a lot of people posting about the fact that Michael Jackson was taken to the emergency room today. Dead Pool (ph) says, “Just keep him out of the children’s cancer ward, OK?” That gives you the tenor of the comments.

But I’m not seeing much about Michael Jackson in many of the political blogs that I look at regularly, even though it’s been on cable television so often. There isn’t as much for them to argue about in this case. Although it may not go away. I mean, after all, we’re still in jury selection.

SCHECHNER: It’s always ever-changing. So we’ll have more tomorrow and see what’s going on then. WOODRUFF: All right. Jackie Schechner, Howard Kurtz, thank you both. And a reminder there at the end that all these blogs are not political blogs. They do look at issues and what’s going on across the spectrum.

True Story

Me: Hi. I had a couple of tests done on Tuesday. I was just calling to see if the results were in yet.

Nurse: Hang on….Do you have United Health Care?

Me: Yes.

Nurse: Yeah. Um, United takes a little longer. Try back on Monday.

Medical care delayed by paperwork and bureacracy? Shocker.

We care. Leave a message.

If you’ve launched a “listening tour,” it’s a good idea to pick up the phone:

UPDATE: We gots ourselves some coverage here and here.